- Download our Moving to Egypt Guide (PDF)
Education in Egypt is divided into a general schooling system and an Islamic schooling system known as the Al-Azhar system. General education consists of public, private and international schools.
Public and tertiary education are free for all children, but public schools in Egypt remain at a low standard overall, and expats are unlikely to consider them. Luckily, there are many good international school options across Egypt, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria.
Public schools in Egypt
Egypt has the largest education system in Africa, and the government has been working to improve the standard of schooling available. There are frequent reforms to the education system, with some measures praised while others have been widely criticised.
Public education in Egypt is separated into several phases:
- Kindergarten: Schooling begins with the basic education phase at ages 4 and 5.
- Primary school: Thereafter, children move to primary school between the ages of 6 and 12.
- Preparatory school: Students aged between 13 and 15 move on to the next phase of education, where their academic results determine their secondary schooling options.
- Secondary school: The final phase takes place between the ages of 15 and 18 in secondary school. Secondary schooling can be undertaken at technical, vocational or general schools.
In Egyptian public schools, the language of instruction is Arabic. This, in combination with the low quality of education offered, leads many expat families to opt for private or international schools instead.
- For more on the national education system, see the Ministry of Education and Technical Education's website.
Private schools in Egypt
Some private schools in Egypt follow a curriculum similar to that taught at public schools, but these schools tend to have better facilities and teachers, so children will generally get a better education here than at a public school. On the other hand, some schools teach alternative curricula based on particular educational or religious philosophies.
While private schools may offer local and international students a higher quality of education, private schools are fee-paying institutions, making them pricier than public schools. Still, private schools remain more affordable than international schools.
International schools in Egypt
International schools in Egypt are private schools that teach a foreign curriculum. The most commonly taught curricula are that of the UK, USA and the International Baccalaureate, but there are also many more options, including French, German, Canadian, Pakistani and others.
These schools are frequently oversubscribed, and some are academically selective, so it's best to start the application process as far in advance as possible. Before committing, parents should also be aware that international school fees tend to be high.
While the benefits are usually worth the hefty price, it's essential first to ensure that it can fit into the budget. If moving to Egypt for work purposes, it's a good idea to try to negotiate an education allowance into their relocation contract.
Read more about International Schools in Egypt.
Special-needs education in Egypt
While Egypt has recognised a need for inclusive education and support for students with different educational needs, this is still sorely lacking in the education system. This has mostly boiled down to a lack of understanding and awareness in Egypt around special needs and disability.
That said, a new curriculum for children with special educational needs has been launched, and hopefully this will lead to inclusive mainstream schooling where children with special educational needs receive the support they need while being taught alongside their peers.
There are several schools specifically for children with special educational needs in Egypt that parents can consider. A limited number of international schools in Egypt also offer additional support, but expat parents should find out exactly what this entails before enrolling.
- For more on special-needs education resources in Egypt, visit Caritas Egypt's Support, Education and Training for Inclusion (SETI) Centre.
Tutors in Egypt
Parents shouldn't struggle to find a tutor for their child in Egypt. Tutors are available for support in specific subjects, learning Arabic or adjusting to a new curriculum. There are many online tutor companies that parents can consider, most of which offer online or at-home private tutoring. Private Tutors Egypt is an example of one such company.
What do expats say about schools in Egypt?
"There are a wide variety of schools in Cairo or Alexandria and you need to find one that fits your budget and family culture. This may take some time but it is worth the effort." Read more in our expat interview with Maryanne, an American expat.
"The schools vary greatly. For expats the best choices are international schools. National schools simply do not have the standard of education that an expat will be used to. International schools cost money though, and the cost is significant." Sam talks about life in Egypt in his expat interview.
►Have a look at our list of International Schools in Egypt
Are you an expat living in Egypt?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Egypt. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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